Federal Regulators Issue Proposed Rules That Would Kill Open And Equal Internet Access

Steven Rosenfeld | San Diego Free Press | May 17, 2014

A caste system, based on segregating content and users by speed and wealth.

The Federal Communication Commission has begun to kill the Internet as most people know it, adopting proposed rules Thursday to create a caste system allowing the giant Internet service providers to segregate users by delivery speeds and ability to pay. The panel voted 3-to-2 in favor of the new rules, with one Democratic appointee, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, expressing misgivings but still siding with the telecommunications giants that have long wanted to privatize Internet service.

The proposed rules now goes to a 120-day comment period, which is bound to be very confrontational. The vote came as protesters occupied the FCC’s Washington offices for a week, held protests at 20 FCC offices around the country, and collected 3.4 million online signatures to defend an equal-access-to-all Internet, known as “net neutrality.”

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, an open-Internet advocacy group that has worked on this issue for a decade, said the FCC’s vote that today was unlike any he had ever seen. The occupiers of the FCC’s Washington offices had talked to commissioners, eliciting pledges that they would defend the public’s access to uniform online access. However, the fine print of the legal changes they proposed was pro-privatization...